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Preparing the Bressingham Garden in spring

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Bressingham garden spring 1It won’t be long before spring is fully underway so, following our Head Gardener’s last blog post about winter gardening at Bressingham, we thought we’d ask Jaime about what happens in the garden in spring.

He’s been caring for Bressingham Gardens for 25 years and counting, working with Bressingham Steam & Garden’s founder Alan Bloom himself at the start of his career with us!

When do spring preparations start in Bressingham gardens?

The spring preparations really depend very much on how we’ve done in the winter.

We need to have cleaned and tidied up all the beds, got all the herbaceous covers out of the way in order that spring can properly start.

Herbaceous plants usually reach their peak after 3 years, so I’m looking for 3 years forward in my planning - a very important aspect of working in such a large garden.

The spring begins with replanting, the earliest ones coming into growth being the herbaceous Phlox (Phlox Paniculata).

I can start working on plants just as they coming into growth and herbaceous Phlox marks the beginning of the spring work for me.

Replanting, Digging up, Dividing and Rejuvenating the soil are easily the most important jobs that I do in the spring months.

What problems might you face during the transition from winter to spring?

Usually the problems faced are very mundane - like Frost, for example, making the ground frozen.  If we haven’t been able to finish our winter tidying that becomes a problem.

Frozen soil could easily delay the work that needs to take place in spring.

Removing leaves from the beds during the winter exposes the ground and, at the same time, slugs and snails which may have laid eggs are also exposed to predators.

Things like Hostas benefit greatly from this - they are wonderful leafy plants that look super at the Chelsea Flower Show, but in gardens they can often take on the appearance of fishnet stockings because of slugs and snails!

By cleaning things up properly we can help reduce pest problems like these greatly.

Bressingham garden spring 2How do you go about planning the new years planting?

Planning the new planting is a really vital aspect of my job.  To put it into perspective, here’s what you shouldn’t do:

Go and dig up plants without a clear idea of where to put them!

Doing this can result in digging up plants only to find the location you wanted to put them in requires you to dig up further plants to make room.

It all comes down to something as simple as having a list.

During the year, usually starting in mid to late April, I’ll scan over the beds every couple of weeks and list the work that I need to do.

I’ll note down names of plants that aren’t flowering very well as the season progresses.  The most common reason for this is that the plants become congested requiring the digging up, dividing and replanting work I mentioned before.

The list gets built throughout the season, I then separate the listed items into the work I need to do in the late autumn, winter, spring and early summer.

When I’m making the list I also consider the possibility of moving them into different areas of the garden.  This way I can make different associations between plants, creating different cameos for, colour and interest.

It is a very obvious but crucial tool in managing a garden of this size where we have nearly 5000 different plants.  With that many you simply can’t rely on your memory!

By Bressingham at 29 Jan 2015, 18:30 PM